Aren’t we all tired of phrases like, “In these uncertain times”? Yes, we all know things are funky. But as small-business owners, we also know that there’s no such thing as “certain times.” When have you ever been guaranteed anything?
That said, things have shifted. For many business owners, it’s not for the better. We all have the same two options: 1) sit and wring our hands, or 2) engage in proactive change. Ah, yes, the C word. “Change.”
Change is not in most people’s comfort zone. But you and I are entrepreneurs. When we get uncomfortable, we thrive. We go in for another C word: “Chance”. So, take a chance and change.
During this COVID craziness, some of our favorite CoupleCos are making impressive changes to stay relevant and useful to their customers. The winery Phifer Pavitt is hosting virtual wine tastings. Alpine Distilling is making hand sanitizer. Freedom Chiropractic is offering virtual office visits through a HIPAA-compliant web portal. WatchTower Coffee & Comics is selling products via delivery, including their new, handcrafted Tongan Caramel sauce (which is also selling out, just by the way—it’s outstanding).
As you may know, our primary business is Slow Burn Marketing. We specialize in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. And Slow Burn is making a pivot. Even before COVID hit, things here were slowing down. This was due in large part to me stepping back from the business to be there for my mother, whose health was declining. Mr. Parker was incredibly supportive. (Thank you, babe.)
But, with only half the manpower and half the skillset, our business felt the impact. My mother has now passed (thank you for your kind words and support), and we are faced with a new question: What next?
And there’s that catchphrase that keeps coming up: “These uncertain times.” We thought, hey, we started Slow Burn Marketing during The Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.” Uncertain times, indeed.
But, history shows that many new businesses (especially ad agencies) launch with great success in “uncertain times.” So, we’ve just decided that “these uncertain times” is code for “excellent opportunity.”
We’re in the process of creating a DIY branding book and online courses for the business owner launching or redefining operations in “these uncertain times.” These are the times when nervy entrepreneurs (nervypreneurs?) go out and do stuff.
But not all entrepreneurs, especially newbie-preneurs, understand branding. Many can’t afford the price tag that comes with being a Slow Burn client. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to be useful or them from having access to credible brand thinking.
And frankly, now that we’re doing it, we’re asking ourselves why we didn’t do this sooner. But making a shift often requires taking a shove. We’ve been shoved, and we’re doing something good with it. (As I type this post, the book is just back from the proofreader. It’s very exciting.)
A big thanks to all of you who’ve inspired us by being proactive, making necessary shifts, pushing forward, even thriving in (yes) uncertain times. We wish you continued success.
Hope that helps
Entrepreneurship is a challenge. A challenge that the outside world often calls, “Living the dream.” This is not a cake walk. How do you handle changes and downturns? This has been on my mind as our business of 12 years is going through a transition. We’ve said goodbye to a big, long-term client. But instead of just replacing them with another big client, we’re changing our business model to attract more, smaller clients. Will it work? Years of experience at this makes us think so. And it’s guaranteed, right? Hmm, no! Guarantees do not exist in the grown-up world of living life by the seat of your entrepreneurial pants. You’re always working without a net. We knew that when we signed up for this. But so far, sweat equity coupled with mad skills make it seem like we at Slow Burn/CoupleCo lead a charmed existence.
We were just talking with another entrepreneur couple. They were discussing things like the crazy hours associated with opening a new location while keeping the staff happy at the current locations. We were all laughing about how people will say, “But when you travel to that location, it’s a write off!” Like that helps. Yes, it’s a write off—IF the IRS agrees. And either way, it’s not like it’s a free trip. Maybe if you’ve never worked for yourself, you don’t consider that someone still has to pay the bill. And that someone is, yes, you.
Recently, I was reading a social post by one of our favorite CoupleCo interviewees, Chopped Champion Christian Hayes of Dandelion Catering in Yarmouth, Maine. We’d interviewed him and his wife, Christine, for episodes #36 & #37. Just recently, they’ve added to their food-service empire by opening a restaurant called The Garrison. For perspective, Christian’s a rocker. He spent about a decade with a band described as an “eight-legged bombastic juggernaut of rock.” In this social post, he’s talking about entrepreneurism, and he hits it right between the eyes.
Christian writes: “The truth is, entrepreneurship is a lonely, isolating reality. People want to believe you’ve got the world by the balls and that you go home with a sense of accomplishment. The reality is sobering. There are so many people connected to me on social media that feel it every day as well. You think you know—until you’re in it—then you realize you had no idea. It’s been 11 years with Dandelion and now we’re doubling up with The Garrison. Don’t get me wrong. I’m living my fucking dream. But also, let’s not forget the gut wrenching, paralyzing churn of wondering if this is the week that breaks you. Financially, spiritually, mentally, physically. The demands are astronomical and ubiquitous from every direction. Yet, on hour 75, as I get out of my car in the parking lot and walk towards the kitchen, I’m always fucking happy. There’s a content feeling that washes over you. The apron goes on—and it’s time to work. I’m right where I belong. Cheers to all my people doing it every day.”
Reading that, I found myself nodding in understanding the challenges that no one sees. There are all kinds of messes you get to clean up while being a “trailblazer.” By the end of the missive, Christian had me charged up to put on my big-girl pants and dig back in. We chose this life for a reason. And for anyone who’s a CoupleCo, the loneliness of the entrepreneurial struggle is a bit less lonely. In our business, we are always Team Parker. If you chose this kind of life, you are part of a special breed. Yeah, we’re gamblers. But at least we’re gambling on ourselves. And no matter the odds, how do you not like taking that bet?
Hope that helps.
Are Blaine & Honey Parker Relationship Experts?
Hardly. And does the world really need more of those? Instead, we are a couple who have worked together for over 20 years. We've learned a few things along the way. And now, we're traveling the nation interviewing other couples in business together. Join us for the ups, downs, ins, outs, laughs, tears (even though Honey believes Blaine has no tear ducts), and the inevitable, practical insights into being a better couple--in life, business and everything.